Monday, October 8, 2018


Today, my friends, we are visiting with Pat Palazy, who blogs at FINGERPRINTING MY EYES. Pat lives in Quebec, in eastern Canada. She tells us she has been visiting us for longer than we knew; she was just shy. We are happy she has come out into the light of day, so we can get to know her better. Smiles. Pat is sharing some wonderful photos with us, along with her poetry and thoughts about writing. She tells us her poet photo is a self-portrait. Let's jump in!

Pat - A self-Portrait

Sherry: Pat, it is so nice to be chatting with you. First question: do you have any animals, and might we meet them? Smiles.

Sierra, Niekah and Salem

Pat: Hi Sherry! thanks for showcasing my words here at Poets United.

Sherry: Oh, you are so lucky to have three animals! They are lovely. When did you begin writing, Pat?

Pat: I can't remember precisely when I began writing; first and foremost, I was a story-teller - and writing stems from this oral tradition; in fact, one of my childhood nicknames was "chatterbox" - if I wasn't being dead quiet and shy, I was chattering away, regaling in fine court-jester fashion. 

Naturally inquisitive and curious, I have a memory for specifics and details, and painted very vivid scenes. So if I wasn't actually putting pencil to paper, I was writing, in my head. (Or like most who love words, was buried in books.) And of course, I had journals and diaries, stacks and stacks of paper, pens, all kinds of "stationary." Reams of it. (Yup, I'm probably responsible for several acres of deforestation --- I'm so sorry, Trees and Earth.)

Sherry: Did you write prose first, or start right off with poems?

Pat: Stories. Stories. Prose. Fiction. One of my first acknowledgements of verbosity was in kindergarten. There was this school competition within each grade, for the best written and spoken-aloud story; I won representation for my class, and then competed with each student from the other six grades. It was a really big deal back then, (it was the early-mid 1970s), and I found myself up on stage, in front of the entire school and all these parents, "performing." Normally it was the older students who won these annual competitions, but not that year; in fact, I think that's probably when my parents realized I was more than just a "chatterbox." 

Sherry: That was a clue, for certain! What do you love about poetry?

Pat: I have an intense love-hate affair with writing and poetry, because the best relationships are passionate and wild, unpredictable and challenging - or maybe, that's just my nature? *smiling*

Actually, what I do appreciate about poetry is its inherent flexibility. If you write prose, fiction, whether it's short stories, (I'm talking about "old school here, not today's "flash"), or aspire to be a novelist, for the most part you're tied to "function and form." You create scenes, characters, settings, scenarios, and the way you have to bring them to life is usually far more concrete and defined, without too much room for metaphors, symbolism, or layering. The complexity and/or simplicity of a well written story is like setting out to build a stylish, hand crafted piece of furniture, say, an armoire, starting from the actual choosing of the wood/tree and working from this point on, felling it, etc. to the end product. 

Poetry, on the hand, is really different. Poetry is like walking through the countryside, and spotting an old building - its weather-stained wood, flaking paint, lighter hued on the west-end high sun-side, with rusty half-pulled bent nails sticking out here and there, (but it's still a fine solid worthy structure) and you swear you can hear whispers and giggles drifting on the wind, or the whinnying and hot, deep snorting of breath - and you wonder - 

Poetry is im/precise wilderness and prose is precise wildness. 

Sherry: Well, that is  a truly wonderful comparison of the two! Very cool. Do you have a favourite poet?

Pat: Dr. Seuss! Right? Who doesn't consider Seuss a poet and not love all those glorious, helter-skelter, tumbling, tipsy tongued rhymes, and stories wrapped up in tertrunkits and blerplunkets and fine fancy bows? *laughing*

Actually, I don't think I have a particular, an absolute favourite poet. I like to read in an eclectic fashion and actually think it's really important to read ALL kinds of things, crossing genres and styles, because exposure is crucial to craft. 

But if I had to choose a poet whose works really affected me, and still do, that one moment, that absolute pure "I've gotten under your skin, caressing you the whole  way, and now you'll always remember me because I live behind your eyes, and have absconded with a piece of your soul" - it would be Master of masters - Cohen. Yup. Leonard Cohen - master of words  - stories, poems, lyrics and music - and mystique.

Sherry: He was a maestro, for certain. When did you begin blogging, Pat? And how has blogging impacted your work?

Pat: Oh, now I'm totally going to date myself here; I began blogging when Blogger was basically the only platform available, (when the only templates were the "classic" ones), and you had to know HTML coding. This was way back in the day when your internet service provider usually provided you with X number of gigabyte space to set up Web Pages/Sites. The only alternatives were Typepad, and Wordpress was a babe swaddled in sackcloth and ashes. Yup, I've been in the cyberworld that long. 

Sherry: Ha, I am glad I began after the html period. I would have been sunk!

Pat: And now? Well, blogging for me, still, is more or less about just having a space to share and to adventure - to wander and read, to listen to the stories others have to share. And to find inspiration. As for how blogging has impacted my work?

Well, all this online armchair travelling opens doors, and windows, of infinite possibility. You can so easily access all kinds of things. You can challenge yourself and discover; it's like a wanderlust project cloaked in the justification of "educational research" - and of course, it's the friendships, the exchanges, that offer the most fascinating and rewarding aspects and elements.

Sherry: A wonderful description. Would you like to choose three of your poems and tell us a little about each one?

I finger hot river rock in my hand
– speak speak
I ask you to teach me of skins long shed
of the scales of the dead for the weights that fill your belly –

preach to me of herstory in love with history
of the silver fox who leaps to catch a vole,
of the snowy owl who has long grown cold for the shadowy chase of the hare –
I ask for the lessons of sand and soil
for the voices of fungi singing in the hollows and shallows –
explain how the earth shatters and quakes
I long to know the thunder errupting as the belly births
fire in heat for the fossils of the flame
to dissipate, as water steams and smokes –
these are the lessons I need named

but still, I can’t find stone’s essences

naturally I bend, contract myself small and squeeze –
blind-eyed finger pick in my hands
choose the only reasonable course –
to taste in wonder of grit
to map this story into my skin
to let striations vein the blood of my own
to soak myself in this composite amber
– perhaps
if I slow chew
break teeth and cut tongue
I will find myself in angles and rounds
in these crevices and pits
polished by fire and water from outside in
opening myself to the compression of the downward weighing sky
knowing finally, what it means to die –
to lie
to crumble
to dust down to speckled sand
to sliver in shards
until I am nothing denser than quivers
not light enough, still, to feather myself on wings –
but born to carry the weight and language
of stone

Sherry: I really relate to this poem. I am a lover of rocks, and always reflect on the history they contain, when I hold them in my hands.

Pat: The Language of Stones, is about learning the language of the earth, and her elements; it's about going beyond just puttering in the garden or slavishly killing yourself in creating something (which I did for many years for my paid work) - because essentially, we are from this earth, at least in bodily form, and we've long forgotten these ancient stories, the codes, the mysteries. 

We're so disconnected from the land, we are living a totally dysfunctional relationship that is entirely destructive.  Mother Earth has and is paying a horrific price; and not only is this super important to me, to "own" - but to understand. We are stewards of this place; I don't think we can really appreciate it until we strip ourselves away and really break ourselves back down to the elements, listen to the stories, familiarize ourselves with these tongues; it's all about energies and absorbing them.

A small girl in pink gingham check cried as I wrote a poem
on the inside of egg shells. 
Wildfires burned a hole in a thrift store dress; it was pinned
to the poem of the small girl.
The flaming checks of the crimson-yellow sunset were flecked with red
specks of sharded glass, the wallpaper of my closed eyes.
And the small, lost girl cried
as a reckless surgeon fingered his silver-sharp scalpel, 
set to incise a wound, 
poemed on the inside of egg shells.
My wildfire eyes burning, behind these paper white
shells, as the small girl held, cupped in her hands, 
the bright yellow yolks. 
And I cried.

Anyone who is familiar with my writing knows I tend to write from a hard-edged, high energy and much darker place.  "I don't do Hallmark" is like a trademark phrase for me. Light can't exist without its sister/brother Shadow, and I think it's really important to explore this, and I always have, either subconsciously or deliberately. This aspect of writing has always been thematic in my words. 

What I appreciate about this poem, which is a more recent work, is that, in some ways, it represents a "pivot" - a change in my perception and direction in some way. I feel like it's still edgy, just softer in some ways, and there is a certain vulnerability and fragility in it that I'm content to let breathe.

Sherry: Your explanations are as wonderful as your poems, Pat. I love both poems, but “Small Girl” especially, for that very softness.

Pat: I'll let you choose the other poem Sherry. *smiling* - because I'm curious to know what makes a favourite or one of particular interest for you, and perhaps others too. 

hear the song of ice and snow
spirit of the wind
whisper the slow rise of mountains
sweep far below into the earth’s drumming fire
let us dance the ancient northern starlit night

Sherry: For me, poems about nature always resonate, so I loved this small gem. And Pat, your photos are GLORIOUS! I also love the following poem and want to sneak it in here.

I am one with the warrior spirit of hawk
grounded in the jutting steps before the lift
slow-to-wings extending before the high rise flight
I am whirling precision carried on the air's swing
circular swirling before the deadly strike

This is wonderful to read. I love "being one with the warrior spirit of hawk". You would love the book H is for Hawk.

How did you find Poets United, Pat? Is there anything you’d like to say to us?

Pat: I came to Poets United ages ago; lurking in corners, reading the posts and wandering about reading what people were sharing. I most likely found this space through another person writing to a prompt, and was significantly curious to check it out. But like the essential dueling/duality nature of much of what I write, I'm either really outgoing or exceptionally shy, so it was a very long time before I actually said "Hi!" 

Sherry: Wow! That’s interesting. I thought you were fairly new here. We are so glad you came out into the sun to say hello! Smiles.

Pat: What I really appreciate about Poets United is the diversity of voices, which translates into so many interesting perspectives, stories, experiences and points of view. It's really a global community, with those who host this space sharing their time in dedicated efforts - and for those who frequent, it offers a rewarding and very openly welcoming space.

There is a certain dynamic energy here, that makes for some very rich story-telling. And I love that it's so culturally expansive. And finally, well - thank you to everyone - those who host, for your time and efforts, and energy in offering such a wealth of poetic offerings, and to those who participate and have visited with me - it's always appreciated. 

Thank you Sherry, it's been a pleasure. 

Sherry: Thank you, Pat. It has been delightful. And thank you for your kind words about Poets United. Pat those furry critters for me!

Wasn't this a lovely visit, my friends? Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you! (Hint: next week we are featuring one of our poets who is also an artist. You won't want to miss it!)


  1. Luv that poem 'Sing of the earth'.
    Thanks Sherry for introducing me to Pat in this up close forum

    Much love...

  2. I so enjoyed this interview with Pat, Sherry. I didn’t realise she lived in Quebec, although I did figure out that she is an animal lover. In the photograph of her as a child, she doesn’t look shy, but photos can be deceptive! It seems that a lot of the poets I know on the worldwide web had a talent for words and storytelling at a young age. I love Pat’s analogy of poetry and an old building in the countryside. I also agree with her about reading in an eclectic fashion because exposure is crucial to craft. And Leonard Cohen!
    Thank you for sharing three poems – one or two wouldn’t have been enough!

    1. Photos are deceptive! But usually, so I've been told, it's the fire in my eyes that gives indication to my feisty nature and curiosity. Thank you for generosity Kim and supportive nature. :)

  3. I'm happy you enjoyed it, friends. I do love getting to know the person behind the pen in these weekly visits. I love my job!

    1. thank you Sherry, for, um ... twisting my arm? *smiling with laughter* -

      You always compile a lovely selection of poems and offer up so many fascinating chats with so many people/poets - it's always some special ~ you have an amazing gift. And I really like the two shorter selections you've chosen - they offer a wonderful counterpoint to some of my longer poems. :)

    2. I love those two so much! I do have my little ways of getting people to comply, so happy you agreed, Pat. So happy you are here at Poets United.

  4. This was a wonderful interview... and I so appreciate the poetry you share here and other places. I really love the way you describe how you write about darkness... I share that interest so much... the shadow is what you need to appreciate light.

    Also love the exposure is crucial to craft...

    1. thank you Bjorn - and it's supportive to know there are others too, who explore the darker side - sometimes I think people must believe I'm one miserable or frightening person - when that's not really the case. Darkness and light - two hands that meet in life's equation ~ and sometimes, it's the subtleties of teasing out the fine line beauty within these spaces so many fear, that yields the most rewarding results :)

  5. A lovely visit indeed! Yes, I too am very glad you came out of hiding, Pat. I enjoy your poetry very much, and also your wonderful, long, insightful comments on other people's (including my own). I love Cohen's poems and novels myself, as well as his songs. And I totally agree with Sherry about the two short poems she chose: perfection! The longer and more complex ones you yourself chose are brilliant in a different way: less visceral, more thought-provoking (while no less sensual) – like visiting a house full of nooks and crannies to explore. And yes, gorgeous photos too. Sherry's Monday posts are always the start to my Tuesdays (even before morning coffee!) and never disappoint. I'm going to stop and have a re-read now, to savour this one all over again.

    1. I'm beginning to feel a bit shy again and am looking for a shrub or bush to peek around, but it's a bit thready here for the falling leaves! *laughing*

      Thank you Rosemary, I appreciate your generosity and support too. And yes, I often get chatty wordy in my comments (eep!) but then, I can't often help myself, it's part of my inherent nature to engage and be exuberant(?) and excited by the ideas and layers I find when I'm reading and discovering what others are saying. And I have to add, I don't often get a chance to comment (for lack of time and energy) when I'm visiting here at P.U., but I do so enjoy all the features throughout the week - I've come to know that I will always find something new and interesting to discover from the hostesses and responses. Cheers to you all for the most giving work you offer to us :)

    2. Dont be skeered......we are a friendly bunch! I want to comment, too, on your very generous and in depth comments on peoples' posts - you really leave such wonderful comments, and it is generous of you to take the time. Thank you.

    3. LOL - just shy at all the most generous, supportive, and encouraging comments is all ...

      oh, and thanks for the link to H is for Hawk - I've come across this title before, but never followed up on it - now, I think I must :)

  6. Nice to know you, Pat. Thanks Sherry for an exhaustive interview. Having pets apparently is a good prerequisite for being a successful poet. Their presence may provide an inspiration for lots of ideas, perhaps. Your poems are wonderful and those are great pics.


    1. thank you Hank :)

      at the very least, the companions offer some semblance of their own characters, that if not directly in my writing (which is truly rare, at least for what I post) - they do offer me a "step back" outside of myself and thoughts and allow me to reconnect with the world, in a more immediate way. And honestly, they offer inherent wisdom in their own ways - albeit with some frustrations - nothing is more frustrating than a cat who insists on taking over the keyboard or lap when trying to work or read posts and/or comment!

  7. Thank you for this introduction to Pat, Sherry! I enjoyed the insights, the wonderful photography and - especially - the compelling and impactful poetry. Great job on this, Poets!

  8. Speaking of your comments, Pat--I first found you today over at my poem, leaving poem-like comment on "The Poetic Touch" that made the point I was trying to make more beautifully. Wow. Sometimes--writing or reading--the embrace is there. I loved your distinction between prose and poetry--even this, though it made me laugh: "Poetry is im/precise wilderness and prose is precise wildness." I might reverse the formula and we would both be right.

    You have a knack for description, unique and philosophical, that I love: the layers of rock, the egg white and yolk, the slow growth of mountains. Wow!

    1. thank you so much Susan, this is very kind and generous of you :)

      and I agree, I think we could reverse the formula and it would be equally applicable ... such is the nature of a well constructed poem or prose piece :)

  9. This was a real treat Sherry and Pat. Lovely, lovely words, whether in poems or in conversation. I've always read my poems once again after you've put your insightful comment, Pat. So wonderful to see you here sharing your poems.

  10. Lovely...loved the poem -- Language of the stones...!

  11. A beautiful interview — it is great to know more about you and your craft, Pat — I have only recently started reading you and in this short period, I have developed an immense appreciation for the way you carry words like ornaments of both small and great value and carve such wonderful imagery through rich and delicious metaphors. I really enjoy both the light and the darkness in your verse — the multitudes give it a depth like a shadow painted on a canvas. I also love how you define and extract the essence of poetry, in comparison with prose/short stories.

    Thanks, Sherry and Pat, for such an invigorating and thoughtful conversation. :-)

    1. thank you so much Anmol :)

      it's a real pleasure to engage with you, not only in your poems, but in our comments - an exchange of ideas and often poetry nuggets laced within those words themselves :)

  12. Pat, I am so glad to learn more about you and your poetry. It's so good you "surfaced". :)
    I liked "the language of stones" for its richness of details. for me, it reads like a search for identity, although i may be wrong in its interpretation.
    I am one of those from the early infant Blogger days, when HTML coding is required. my main blog is still in 'classic' template. i am afraid to convert it to the newfangled templates, in case the whole blog disappears. :)

    1. thank you so much :)

      (and you never have to wonder if an interpretation of a poem is "right or wrong" - if anything, I encourage people to share how they've read it, for often nuances, layers and other depths emerge that haven't necessarily been forefront in my mind come to light)

      *re saving blog content? - in your dashboard, in one of the settings areas, there is an option to save your content - which gets downloaded as an import HTML file - so if you ever want to save all of your work and then change/play with newer templates, you can safely do so. If you keep a copy on your computer of the blog "download" - you can always revert back/upload it if thing don't suit your needs and purposes, or actually show back up as you'd planned if you decide to stay "old template" - all of this sounds more complicated than it actually is though, so whatever works best for you is all that matters :)

  13. Yes, a lovely visit!! I love the words Pat has chosen, and love each poem! So glad she has chosen to share her work!

    1. thank you so much for your kindness Annell :)

  14. Thank you, friends, and thank you once again, Pat, for sharing your poems, words, thoughts and photos with us. It has been such a pleasure.

  15. I agree with you, Pat, about the flexibility of poetry. I love "Dancing With Hawk," and ha - I am glad you don't do Hallmark. Smiles. Great interview, Sherry and Pat; and wonderful poems (and pets).

    1. thanks so much Mary - how lovely of you to say :)

  16. I just wanted to say thank you to everyone for reading and sharing your thoughts here - you are all very generous and encouraging - the supportive nature of this community and of each of you individually, is truly special. :)

  17. Oh this was quite delightful Sherry...thank you for introducing me/us to Pat! And Pat you speak my language in your poetry...straight to my heart....I love your thoughts about poetry and prose too.

    'Poetry is im/precise wilderness and prose is precise wildness.'

    I hope to visit your blog more and get to know you and your poetry.

  18. What a delightfully different interview introducing us to Pat. I am so keen on reading more of your work as the examples posted here show such a range of ideas and styles. Thank you both Sherry and Pat for whetting our appetite for more.

  19. Wonderful, entertaining, as well as informative. Poetry does have a flexibility along with the option to wander. Pat, your poems are unique, and I am glad to see you here.
    Thanks, Sherry!

  20. Glad you took off your cloak of invisibility, and let others in on your "secrets." Your words amaze me, always, as you know whether in poetry, the occasional prose, emails, blats, chalogs, and all the other ways I get to "read" you.
    Proud of you for stepping out of the shadows -- shadows we so often pain on yourselves. You are a poet, and now more folks will know it. *smiling* throughout.

  21. Oops, should be paint not pain, but then we do know pain. And I don't paint


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